In January I shall be speaking at a conference on Stoicism and French Philosophy at the University of Bristol. Full details here. The title for my talk is 'Indifference and Affirmation: Michael Foucault on Stoic Fate and Providence'.
I plan to discuss Foucault's account of Stoic providence in one of his Hermeneutics of the Subject lectures (17 March 1982, second hour). In the lecture Foucault discusses the idea of life as a test, drawing on Seneca's On Providence. He suggests a shift in attitude between the Athenian Stoa and the Roman Stoics. While for the Athenian Stoics unwelcome external events are value neutral, for Roman Stoics like Seneca they start to be seen as positive. At first glance we might think this reflects a shift from seeing external events as the product of blind fate to seeing them as the product of a benevolent providence. Yet that cannot be right, because the Athenian Stoics were equally committed to providence. So I shall try to examine just what Foucault is claiming and whether it stands up.